hike: Burnt Lake & East Zigzag Mountain
Take a moderate hike to Burnt Lake for views of Mount Hood reflected in the lake, or for more expansive views, continue for a strenuous hike to East Zigzag Mountain.
TO BURNT LAKE
distance: 6.6 miles round trip
elevation gain: 1,420 ft
TO EAST ZIGZAG MOUNTAIN
distance: 9.4 miles round trip
elevation gain: 2,300 ft
best season: summer, fall
drive time from Portland: 1 hour 10 minutes
parking pass: none
hike description: OregonHikers.org: East Zigzag Mountain hike
From the trailhead, go through a wood stile designed to keep horses and bicycles off the trail. For the first two miles, the trail is relatively flat and gentle as it heads through a forest of Douglas fir, hemlock and old-growth cedar that burned in 1904 and 1906, which is how Burnt Lake got its name. The forest has since filled in, while many hollow shells of burnt old-growth cedars remain.
At 2.5 miles, take a side trail that leads a short distance down to views of Lost Creek Falls.
Back on the main trail, after a sharp turn, the path climbs more steeply on the final mile to Burnt Lake. As you make your way up the switchbacks on the trail, look for views of Mount Hood. Rock hop across the lake’s outlet stream, and in another .25 mile, reach the shores of 8-acre Burnt Lake.
Side trails at the lake lead to campsites and day-use areas. For views of Mount Hood, especially nice at sunrise and sunset, head to day-use area D on the southwest side of Burnt Lake and make your way through the overgrown path to the lake shore.
To continue to East Zigzag Mountain, continue on the Burnt Lake Trail as it heads up a ridge away from the lake for 0.8 mile, passing campsites #2 and #3. Continue on this trail past a boggy section, then up several switchbacks to a saddle and a junction with the Zigzag Mountain Trail #775. Turn right and head up a short, steep and rocky trail.
Rhododendrons line the trail at an opening on the ridge with views of Mount Hood and Burnt Lake, now far below. Continue on the ridge for 0.3 mile to an open saddle and pass a junction with the Burnt Lake South Trail. The steep slope of East Zigzag Mountain is directly ahead. Continue up this open ridge on a rocky path for another 0.2 mile, past stands of conifers and shrubs to the rocky summit of East Zigzag Mountain (4,971 ft.).
A fire lookout used to be here, but now there’s nothing but a jumble of boulders and rock. Make your way across the rocks and find a spot to relax and soak in the massive views of five volcanoes. Mount Hood looms large directly to the west, and on clear days, Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier and Mount Adams can be seen on the horizon looking north, while Mount Jefferson is viewed to the south through an opening in trees.
Return to the trailhead the same way you hiked in.